Chronic Illness/Gitelman Syndrome, Musings

Oh, hi

Patent Application by Long Victoria Prints on Etsy
Patent Application by Long Victorian Prints on Etsy

Ten days ago, I had botox injected into 31 spots in my temples, scalp, neck, and shoulders in the hopes that it would do something to help the chronic migraines I’ve been getting for the past few years. It’s kind of terrifying to be at the point where I’m voluntarily paralyzing some of my neck and shoulder muscles just to be able to live my life, but at this point I’m desperate. I’ve tried yoga and meditation and medication and massage and vitamins and basically everything else, and here we are.

Things are complicated because there are three factors at play here:

  • My kidney condition, which makes me chronically low in magnesium. Your body needs calcium to contract muscles and magnesium to relax them. I never have enough magnesium, so many of my muscles (especially my beck and shoulders) are just always bunched and tight.
  • Calgary weather. We have a lot of wild-swinging weather systems, and it’s not uncommon for temperatures to vary more than 20 degrees from one day to the next. This creates huge variances in barometric pressure, which causes migraines for many people.
  • Stress, lack of sleep, workouts that target shoulders, menstrual cycles, phases of the moon, all the other common triggers.

It’s always been a bit of a nightmare trying to figure out which of the three is causing a particular migraine, and really I’m not sure it matters at this point. The effect is the same.

So! Getting needles jabbed into your body 31 times is not pleasant. Neither is the Daddy of All Migraines that I’ve been stuck with off and on since the treatment because apparently while this can be really helpful for some people, it also sometimes makes migraines worse before they get better. Rude!

But, being stuck in your bedroom with the blinds closed 10-15 days a month while your head explodes and your child eats frozen waffles and you pray that either the medication kicks in or the sweet release of death takes you is more unpleasant, so I took a gamble because I don’t feel like I’ve been left with a ton of options, to be honest. Working full-time and single parenting full-time really doesn’t leave a lot of room to malinger and lie around darkened bedrooms, as much as I enjoy the dramatics.

I know some of you guys deal with migraines, too, so if this does end up working I promise that I will let you know, but at the moment if I’m honest it’s just been a lot of intense pain – pain from them injecting shit into my muscles, pain from the rebound migraines, and pain from sheer frustration because I feel a lot like a spectator in my own life. Watching from the sidelines, ineffectual and unable to get anything done.

I have been embracing crone life HARD lately, eye masks, robotic neck massagers, hot magic bags, audibly moaning when I get up or sit down. I have aged sixty years in the last week and I do not like it!

But before that, before that things were good! I enjoyed a chaotic Christmas surrounded by my siblings in Invermere, a full eleven days in my house alone while Olive was with her dad’s family, late nights, a lovely birthday party, and some really good, sweaty, hot yoga for New Year’s Eve.

I’ve never had anxiety around birthdays or getting older. I think living with a chronic illness makes me acutely aware that I’m perpetually just a few missing pills away from death (DEATH!) so I do truly feel quite grateful for the ageing process – for the decades of experience piling up in the corners of my head and my heart, the slowly creeping forest of grey hairs, the feeling of tripping through each age.

But 35. 35 is really something! It feels so significant. It kept slamming into me all day on the 27th – not a sense of worry about where I am in life or even where I should be, I feel good about all that, just…the sheer fact of it. It was the same feeling I get at each of Olive’s birthdays, when I stand back and look at her, the solid weight of her existence in this world, and wonder how it’s all happened.

How has this happened? How has it happened enough times that I’m 35? It’s kind of miraculous, really.

(Also, my existential crisis around 35 probably wasn’t helped by the fact that my siblings were calling it “half-seventy” like the dicks they are.)

I hope you all had a gentle introduction into 2019, and are soaking up its first few weeks. It’s going to be a big one!

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  • Reply Cynthia Alison January 17, 2019 at 12:45 PM

    HI Madelaine I am so sorry that you suffer from migraines I once was prescribed migraine medicine which worked for a bit but it was super strong medicine I no longer get migraines I hope that you have a good birthday Love from Cynthia

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 17, 2019 at 1:43 PM

      Mine (Sumatriptan) is fairly effective but only if I catch it early enough, which doesn’t work when I wake up to a migraine, unfortunately. I’m glad you’re not getting them anymore! Hope to join you on that front soon.

      • Reply jamie ramirez January 17, 2019 at 2:46 PM

        just so you know, sumatriptan/imitrex doesn’t work super well for all people. for my wife, rizatriptan/maxalt works really well (imitrex, not so much). everyone is different, so it’s worth trying other triptans!

        though my wife just started the new monthly thigh-injection, aimovig, and it’s working better than anything before, even botox (which she still gets, it’s better with both). botox didn’t work right away though. took 2 or 3 treatments to start helping.

  • Reply James Hopes January 17, 2019 at 1:05 PM

    My wife finally seems to be getting on top of hers through a combination of a slightly curious osteopath, some herbal tablets and some Topiramate. Hopefully it lasts!

    I guess the botox explains why you haven’t changed much in your 10 year photos!

    Enjoy 35, because I can suitably reassure you that 40 is 100 times worse. For the mathematicians in the house that’s halfway to 80…

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 17, 2019 at 1:42 PM

      Ha! Unfortunately it doesn’t have any delightful cosmetic effects, as it’s mostly in the scalp and back of my neck/shoulders. But if I ever half the shave my head, it’ll be smoooth and wrinkle free

      Oh god. 40. Yeah. That feels big.

  • Reply Lora January 17, 2019 at 2:00 PM

    I’m so sorry to hear about all the headaches! I used to get about 20-25 a month and was always medicated. I started getting Botox a year ago and the first couple weeks after sucked – however, they then got gradually better and after getting a second treatment 12 weeks later they were dramatically better. I now get about 5-8 a month that can easily control with Tylenol/Advil. Hang in there! I know how frustrating it is but I would recommend giving it another try, even if you don’t get the results you wNt this time.

    • Reply sweetmadeleine January 17, 2019 at 2:46 PM

      Oh this is so, so reassuring to read! They’ve been so bad since I’ve had it done, I’ve been feeling super disheartened and worried I’d out myself through all this for nothing! I hope I have the same results as you did!

  • Reply Lora January 17, 2019 at 3:48 PM

    I hope you do too!!

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